Fooling around with IoT?
The IoT movement has been around for a number of years now and although there have lots of interesting projects, it is time to, well, get serious, really! A lot of projects have evolved around consumer and residential implementations, but moving the critical mass of projects to the commercial and industrial (C&I) space is what is needed to shift it into high gear and realize vast new potential. I am not saying that turning on your bedroom lights or answering your doorbell from across the ocean isn’t exciting. I must confess, however, I am still working on convincing my family that spending $250 on a doorbell is a worthy investment. Perhaps when I get it connected to Echo, Alexa will help me defend my decision.
The good news is that for C&I implementations, the ROI is much clearer. Thanks to improvements in sensors, communication, bandwidth, analytics, as-a-service options, etc., we have crossed the tipping points of the economic models that deliver the kind of ROI that make it much easier to justify. Many analysts are now in fact forecasting a direct link between business competitive longevity and IoT adoption.
The technology is now available to reimagine our factories, businesses, and cities to drive more sustainable practices, higher productivity and even quality of life. When you really get this point, you realize that IoT is no longer a job, it is a mission. Being able to tell people that you are on a mission is a cool thing! I predict that there will be many books written about this transformative period we find ourselves in the middle of today. In fact, I am ready now! Who would like to start a book with me?
Energy-as-a-service is the newest entrant to the as-a-service business model, and it is redefining how businesses think about their relationship with energy.
That does not mean that there are no technological barriers left to tackle. Here are five top challenges I think about every day:
1. Standardization - We need to move from a plethora of technical approaches and one-offs to a more coordinated, open ‘standards’ based movement.
2. Being more open - Approaches that can better leverage open source, cloud, and container technologies for speed, scalability, and extensibility. Ask the right questions around proprietary closed systems versus open. It is directly related to interoperability and speed. And yes the world today is all about being fast and how to get even faster.
3. Ending the platform wars. If you are asking who your competitor is, you are asking the wrong question. The right question is, who are you collaborating with? What outcomes are you driving? IoT is all about collaboration of ideas, technologies, and data to create the best capabilities to deliver the desired outcomes. Those who draw lines in the sand will never fully access the ocean of IoT opportunity that is out there.
4. Security and privacy – This will be a never-ending task and challenge as we implement and operate IoT in the C&I space. Understand and respect that. This is a worthy area to spend time and effort. Don’t forget that it is easier to design security in than add it later.
5. OT and IT must get in bed together. The world of data scientists and digital must marry with the world of physics based engineering. This is where the magic happens but it does not come easy. From my experience, expect more of a confrontational relationship than a ‘kumbaya’ experience and prepare to manage that. You know, hope for the best, plan for the worst.
Let me give you a specific example of a project I am currently working on. I am fortunate enough to be on an IoT mission in the distributed energy space. As I survey the current landscape, I am can see the progress that has been made by implementing advanced energy management systems and smart grid technologies. We have been able to tackle better energy management and asset management and bring better automation making staff more productive. With the advances in the world of IoT, however, we have the opportunity to move to a whole new generation of management and value capture.
Energy-as-a-service is the newest entrant to the as-a-service business model, and it is redefining how businesses think about their relationship with energy. Companies are using sensors from intelligent lighting as a jumping off point to align their energy spends to business metrics, which essentially shifts energy from a cost to a business enabler.
This is an opportunity to lead significant change in energy delivery - one that is enabled by a more pervasive set of sensors to make the built environment more contextually adaptive. In other words we can, for the first time, have a real time awareness of tasks as they occur and apply energy required by each task. This will enable us to move from making our engineers and assets more productive to making those that live and work in the built environment more productive and businesses more competitive.
The good news is we are working with partners committed to collaboration on open, more standardized platforms. We are working side by side with the engineers all with a commitment to doing this in a responsible secure and protected fashion.
IoT has been a work in progress for a number of years and has already demonstrated lots of potential value. Putting IoT to work in the C&I space will finally reveal our ability to deliver significantly more, real quantifiable value. It’s time to stop flirting around and commit to a serious relationship with IoT. Are you ready?